These versatile reptiles thrive in tropical environments, whether that’s alone in a tree or in an underground multi-species snake party.
All a python needs to survive is water, heat and a plentiful supply of prey. This is one of the reasons that the Burmese python has successfully invaded the US after being accidentally released in Florida over the last three decades.
The Everglades provide a perfect shelter for these alien invaders that snatch anything from birds to deer fawns -and even the occasional alligator! In their natural environment Burmese pythons, like other members of the python family, are important to the ecosystem as controllers of rodents and birds that could otherwise overpopulate the landscape.
There are more specialised pythons that live in specific circumstances, like the green tree python that is native to Australia. It lives almost exclusively in the rainforest and rarely ventures to the ground. Pygmy pythons, meanwhile, prefer the extreme heat of northwest Australia, taking refuge under spinifex bushes or in termite mounds with other snake species, such as Stimson’s and black-headed pythons.
Gathering together like this means that the inside temperature sits at a toasty 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Other reptiles like skinks, broad-banded sand swimmers and geckoes have even been known to join these snake parties, which is unusual as many of these species are otherwise strictly solitary.
Environments with good leaf cover are ideal for python hatchlings that could otherwise be snatched by predators. Snakes are greatly affected by their surroundings, like the African rock python that only grows to its full length in areas with a low density of humans.
Ball pythons curl into tight spheres to avoid predation by cobras, and have evolved to wrap the entire body around the head to keep the cranium safe. These snakes are incredible survivors, and slither smoothly through their habitat as leaders of the reptile kingdom.